Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

Lawmaker budget requests start to pile up

Florida lawmakers are championing hundreds of projects and seeking billions of dollars as they prepare for the start of the 2024 legislative session in January. Topped by $50 million requests for expanding water storage and treatment in the Lake Okeechobee and Caloosahatchee River basins and for speeding up private passenger rail between Orlando and Tampa, House members as of Monday morning had filed just under 1,500 separate proposals that would require $3.1 billion to fund. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida expanding semiconductor manufacturing capabilities with $28M in grants

In another push to reduce reliance on China and other foreign entities, Florida is expanding its semiconductor manufacturing capability. More than $28 million was recently awarded through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to expand semiconductor manufacturing and chip manufacturing through five workforce development projects. The awards are part of a $50 million initiative Gov. Ron DeSantis launched in September dedicated to supporting Florida's semiconductor industry. It expands on grants awarded last year to entities in Osceola County. [Source: The Center Square]

Savings to be thankful for: Why Florida drivers are feeling the cheer this holiday season

Christmas is coming early this year with some big-time savings at the pump. According to AAA, Thanksgiving 2023 saw the lowest gas prices for the holiday in three years, with gas hitting as low as $3.03 a gallon across Florida on average. As of Monday, the average price for gas in the Sunshine State sits at $3.01 a gallon, almost $2 lower than the all-time high of $4.89 set in June 2022. [Source: Action News Jax]

South Florida families are facing food insecurity at higher rates than the country overall

South Florida is facing a problem that only becomes more difficult during the holidays. Residents here are not getting enough to eat. According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, the share of people in Florida facing food insecurity is higher than the share of those facing hunger nationwide. And the problem is especially acute in South Florida. [Source: WLRN]

State seeks go-ahead for drag show law

After suffering a setback at the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys for Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration on Friday told a federal appeals court that a law aimed at preventing children from attending drag shows is tailored to the state's "unquestioned interest in protecting children from exposure to obscenity." The state, in a 73-page brief, argued that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should overturn a June ruling by U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell that blocked enforcement of the law statewide. Presnell said the law, approved this spring by the Republican-led Legislature and DeSantis, violated First Amendment rights. [Source: News Service of Florida]


› 'Forever chemicals' detected in Newberry drinking water
The water in Newberry contains concentrations of toxic “forever chemicals,” at or above the Environmental Protection Agency's minimum reporting levels, according to new data released by the EPA this month. The chemicals, Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFAS, were reported to be found above the EPA's limit in one out of four public drinking water systems in the nation. In Newberry, two PFAS have been detected at these higher levels, with one being 46.7% over the EPA’s limit.

› Royal Caribbean takes delivery of world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas
There’s still two months to go before the first paying customers climb on board, but Royal Caribbean officially took possession Monday of the world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas. Cruise line officials joined leadership with the Meyer Turku shipyard along with about 1,200 employees in Turku, Finland, for the handover ceremony of the 250,800-gross-ton, 1,198-foot-long, 20-deck vessel that had its first steel cut 31 months earlier.

› ‘Flood gates are opened.’ More projects want approval outside Miami-Dade development zone
A year after Miami-Dade commissioners granted rare approval for a large project beyond the county’s conservation buffer, there’s a batch of proposals eager to give them the chance to do it again. This year, developers filed seven applications to build beyond the current Urban Development Boundary (UDB), where the suburbs end and construction is limited.

› Sinkhole opens under Busch Gardens wastewater pond, dumps 2.5 million gallons below
A sinkhole recently opened under a wastewater treatment pond at Busch Gardens, dumping an estimated 2.5 million gallons of treated wastewater into the earth below, according to state environmental regulators and a theme park spokesperson. Busch Gardens employees discovered the 15-foot-by-15-foot sinkhole in the early morning hours Nov. 18. The sinkhole opened in the last of a train of three ponds used in the park’s on-site wastewater treatment process, according to Brian Humphreys, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

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› After takeover, Crystal is back in Florida with a revamped cruise ship
Crystal Cruises’ future was up in the air when its ships were seized and it declared bankruptcy in 2022. But a new owner bought its two ocean-going vessels, which combined went under $170 million makeovers, and they are sailing again trying to win back its luxury sailing clientele. New owners Abercrombie & Kent Travel Group renamed the line simply Crystal, and one of its ships, Crystal Serenity, made its way to PortMiami this month to begin a winter sailing season of the Caribbean.

› National law firm to open its 3rd Florida office in downtown Miami
A Cincinnati-based law firm will open downtown Miami office – it's third in the Sunshine State. Dinsmore & Shohl LLP closed on a sublease for a 7,717-square-foot office on the 24th floor of the Southeast Financial Center at 200 South Biscayne Blvd. Once the final stages of the office's set up is complete, six partners, five associates, and a support staff that includes paralegals, receptionists, and administrators will move in, said Joshua Lorentz, the firm's managing partner and chairman.

› Grant to Goodwill Manasota program that teaches veterans new skills, how to find a job
Veterans who are returning to civilian life face numerous challenges that can complicate reintegration into their families, communities and the workforce. Entering or returning to the workforce can be particularly challenging. Many veterans have never looked, applied or interviewed for a civilian job, and those who did work prior to their military service may need to learn new skills to stay competitive with their peers.

› Seminole’s new storm water pond to help ease flooding in Geneva
At a cost of nearly $2 million, Seminole County officials hope a new storm water drainage project completed this month in a rural spot near the St. Johns River will help alleviate flooding after most heavy rain events. For years, homeowners along Retreat Road in Geneva have seen their properties become overwhelmed with water, even after heavy afternoon thunderstorms drop a few inches of rain during the summer months.